How to cope with a broken arm?
March 19, 2011 1:19 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend just broke her arm a few inches above the elbow (spiral fracture). She's currently in a splint and will possibly get a plate and pins in a few days. She works at a desk job, which she will return to after a week or two of rest. What can we do to make life easier (tips, special equipment, etc)?
posted by MeowForMangoes to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dragon Naturally Speaking does a pretty good job at transcribing words for many folks. Also, most phones can be outfitted with a headset at nominal cost.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2011

The Reach flosser.
posted by SillyShepherd at 1:43 PM on March 19, 2011

Put the toilet paper on the side opposite of her broken arm. Buy her one of those Charmin To Go packets of toilet paper for her purse.

If she ends up in a cast instead of plate and pins, ask about your cast options for that break! The fiberglass casts are much nicer, but often they stick adults with the old style casts. Additionally, you can get a waterproof liner instead of a normal liner, and then you don't have to worry so much about showering. (Your doctor won't necessarily volunteer any of this, even if it is an option for that break.)
posted by anaelith at 1:44 PM on March 19, 2011

I had exactly this fracture of my right arm back in June last year, in roughly the same place. In terms of rehab, it took me about 3 months to get back to being able to do much and 6 months to be back to full ish use. I still am missing a bit of terminal extension (can't quite straighten my arm) and probably always will. It took a good deal of physiotherapy to get back to that.

That said, I was back at work in my (office based) job less than 2 weeks post op. Because it was fixed with plate, whilst I couldn't weight bear, I could type, with the keyboard on my lap, or write if I was careful where I put the pad, or, non workwise, use my Xbox controller.

The biggest problem for me was getting to sleep, but that was a case of adjusting sleeping patterns, which happens with any fracture. In terms of specifics, I couldn't wear a necktie or do up shoe laces for months - of which I guess only the latter will be a problem for your gf, easily solved by slip on shoes in my case. If I can be of any further help, feel free to mefi mail me...
posted by prentiz at 3:39 PM on March 19, 2011

Ooh anaelith reminds me that showering was a real pain. Without the option of exciting waterproof linings, I had to go with the bin-bag and cellotape solution which worked well.
posted by prentiz at 3:42 PM on March 19, 2011

I broke my left elbow and separated my right shoulder a few days ago. What really sucks for me is sleeping. Once I lay down, I can't really adjust my position. I can't use my arms to roll over or scoot up/down the bed. Having my wife help me get comfortable with pillows under the knees and behind my shoulders has been a great help for comfort.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:22 PM on March 19, 2011

Rather than using a bin-bag + cellotape solution, you might find a purpose-made re-usable cast cover helpful.

There are some waterproof cast covers here:
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 4:26 PM on March 19, 2011

I have pins in my left wrist. The thing I remember most ( aside from sleeping) is the cutting of food. I couldn't cut meat or anything that needed a knife. Going to restaurants were a little embarrassing until I got used to it/them. I could cut the softer foods with only my fork ( veggies, pies, etc.) but was no match for a steak or pork chop. Think of things that normally take two hands or arms. Getting dressed is another one. Snaps, buttons, etc. can become a frustrating chore all of a sudden. Help her when you need to, but let her do it when she can also.
Encourage your girlfriend to do as much physiotherapy as possible ( within reason) even though her gains may seem trivial at times. Don't let her become lackadaisical with doing her exercises. This will take some time. It will be very beneficial years from now in her mobility of her arm if she perseveres.
posted by Taurid at 10:41 PM on March 19, 2011

I was similarly incapacitated for several months and found going to the salon to get my hair washed really helped. I wore slip on pants and shoes and carried a tote bag with all of my stuff in it.
posted by melodykramer at 5:53 AM on March 20, 2011

When a friend broke her humerus, her biggest problem was getting her bra on. She finally contacted Decent Exposures and had them make her a couple of bras that velcroed together over her right shoulder and under her right arm -- that being the broken side. Then she could just thread her left arm into the bra and have her partner help her fasten the velcro. DE charged a little extra for the alteration, but not a ton, I want to say $10-$15.
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2011

I slept in a recliner for months when I had the same kind of break. I was a lot easier to keep the arm in the desired position.

I also used a squeezy toy to keep my hand strong.

One of those long handled reachers is a also handy. Helps with picking up stuff without bending and helpful in getting socks on.

I used velcro to attach my watch to my sling and used the sling to carry small stuff around.

I used an aquarium pump to pump air into my cast for itch relief.

Good luck!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everybody. A lot of clever solutions we would never have thought of!
posted by MeowForMangoes at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2011

When I broke my wrist years back, I was so glad to be working at a music store at the time; conductor's batons are FANTASTIC for itches: they're long, thin, painted so they won't splinter, and have nice little cork handles for getting a good grip. They're also surprisingly cheap.
posted by holterbarbour at 5:14 PM on March 20, 2011

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